The FIFA U20 World Cup being held in Turkey more or less stuck to the patterns represented in the senior football. All of the South American teams qualified to the knock out stage being group winners or a runner up. Six out of seven teams of Europe also reached the second stage. Asian teams have fared really well with 3 of the four nations making progress. Iraq topped the group that also had England, which acrimonously becomes the only team from Europe to get knocked out.

North American teams have fared poorly with Mexico the only team to reach the second stage. So when the smaller continents have fared well and African countries even won youth tournaments previously why do the footballing third worlds not go on to dominate senior football. I remember the message of the book Outliers written by Malcolm Gladwell. Where a select few that gets more time to improve and practice on their skills tend to become much better. So even though some of the minnows in football go on to do well in these youth tournaments the problem is that the better nations even if though their youth teams probably don’t do that well, (Brazil wasn’t even represented this time around), the competitiveness of the leagues, or youth development programs help to make the players much better in the longer run. So if the same Egyptian players turned out against the same players of England in a few years time, the result could be drastically different. The young English players getting more exposure, better training, and stronger competition, an improvement of their skills is required to survive and not fade into the shadows of the sport.

The question then would be to then how do we ensure that these players keep improving. A competitive football league can do wonders. National football federations can also do a good job by helping these players move abroad and give them maximum support as opposed to how players are pressurized into not moving abroad because they enjoy less competition, enjoy more support of the fans, and bring better chances of victory to the local clubs as can be seen in the U.A.E. What about setting up a good agent structure for the smaller countries. Scouting and agents rarely are represented in the smaller football nations which means even if a player of immense potential appear no body is noticing and representing such players in the international scene.

We need to do something to help these players, if a continent like Asia, would want to see a team represented in the World Cup. Even if not win it, if we can reach a final, it would be great achievement the continent could be proud of.


He calls himself an expressionist. He also suffers from chronic palpitations owing to the repeated ingestion of double esspressos.

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